TORONTO — Maybe this will be the game the Yankees look back on as the one that finally got their offense rolling the way it did during much of the season’s first half.
Behind breakout games by rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper (four hits) and third baseman Todd Frazier, the Yankees erupted early, middle and late in topping the Blue Jays, 11-5, Wednesday night in front of 39,554 at Rogers Centre.
“When our offense was really going good, that’s what we were doing,” Joe Girardi said. “We were getting production from everyone. It was good to see.”
The Yankees (60-52), who had 17 hits, including three home runs, scored multiple runs in the second, fifth, eighth and ninth innings. They stayed four games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.
Frazier, who had been 12-for-58 since joining the Yankees July 19, went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and scored four runs. He was hit by a pitch on his left elbow in the ninth inning and was removed in the bottom half, but said it was precautionary. Didi Gregorius went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double, giving him 27 hits in his last 73 at-bats.
“Sometimes hitting’s contagious, that old saying goes, and everybody pretty much came through today,” Frazier said. “Let’s keep on doing it.”
The game in some ways was closer than the final score indicated. Behind solo homers by Gary Sanchez, Frazier and Gregorius, the Bombers built a 6-2 fifth-inning lead. With a relatively fresh bullpen, they seemed primed to cruise to a victory.
But it nonetheless turned into a white knuckler. Masahiro Tanaka failed to make it out of the fifth inning. Chad Green, who came in with the third-best ERA of any reliever in baseball (1.41), and Tommy Kahnle weren’t nearly as sharp as they had been, allowing the Blue Jays (53-60) to creep within 6-5. Green (2-0) was charged with two runs but picked up the win.
Finally, David Robertson started the process of settling things down, and a key two-run single by Ronald Torreyes in the eighth helped the Yankees open it up on a somewhat wild night.
Spot starter Nick Tepesch (0-2) allowed Sanchez and Frazier to homer back to back in the second, and Gregorius went deep in the third. Tepesch allowed five runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in only his third big-league start since 2014.
Frazier’s two-run double off Leonel Campos in the fifth and Jacoby Ellsbury’s ensuing double made it 6-2, giving Tanaka, who had command issues throughout, a cushion. But the righthander, 3-3 with a 2.98 ERA in his previous eight starts, could not hold the Blue Jays (53-60) there in the fifth inning.
He allowed a leadoff homer to Jose Bautista, making it 6-3 and giving him 28 homers allowed in 23 starts this season. After Tanaka walked Josh Donaldson, Girardi brought on Green, who struck out three straight.
Tanaka allowed three runs (two earned), two hits and five walks in four-plus innings. “The split was not there tonight,” Tanaka said through his translator.
Robertson pitched a perfect seventh, and Torreyes’ two-run single in the eighth pushed the lead to 8-5.
Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless eighth, and the Yankees made the ninth a non-save situation by scoring three runs in the top half, two of them coming in on the fourth hit of the night by Cooper, who was a late addition to the lineup when fellow rookie Clint Frazier was scratched because of tightness in his left oblique. Aaron Judge went from DH to rightfield, and Chase Headley, who was to start at first, shifted to DH. Frazier, who described the area as being “tender” the last few days, will be sent for an MRI Thursday.
“I’m not too concerned, honestly,” Frazier said.